The StraightForward Foundation and Cara Scott Premiere New Dance Video ‘Unbraced’

by Bridget Conrad | 9/11/2019 7:11 PM

Photo Credit: @straightforwardfoundation on Instagram

A scoliosis diagnosis can be very scary for a dancer. Not only can be accompanied with a crooked back, uneven hips and uneven shoulders, it can also come with overwhelming thoughts of a dance career that will be cut short. In the past, undergoing a spinal fusion surgery would be a detrimental blow to a dancer's career, but in recent years dancers have implemented various new techniques outside of the dance studio to keep the dance dream alive. To commemorate all of the dancers who have experienced the trials and tribulations of scoliosis, the StraightForward Foundation teamed up with DanceOn to premiere ‘Unbraced,’ a dance film that is creative producer Cara Scott’s directorial debut. 

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‘Unbraced’ is a film inspired by Scott’s personal growth as a young dancer with scoliosis and a spinal fusion. The mission for this film is to empower and encourage a sense of community among those affected by scoliosis. For the film, Scott gathered dancers of similar backgrounds and stories to demonstrate that scoliosis doesn’t have to stop you from pursuing the career of your dreams.

First, the StraightForward Foundation collaborated with Scott on the film by reflecting on her personal background as a dancer prior to undergoing a spinal fusion surgery. With Scott’s personal story, and the foundation’s goal of promoting scoliosis awareness through art, they gathered a group of dancers ages 19-40 to share their own personal struggles with scoliosis through movement. These dancers included Taryn Kashock Russell, BRAT, Ellexis Hatch, Olivia Grace Sparling, and DeJa. 


This film does a great job of capturing the movement of women who haven't allowed scoliosis to strip dance from their lives. Everyone involved in the film expressed their struggles with scoliosis through an art form. Even the musical artist of the song used in this film, Emeryld, shared a personal story of dealing with this orthopedic condition.

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Although it’s not talked about much, scoliosis in dancers is actually quite common. Kendall Alway, DPT, who is a physical therapist, former professional dancer with over 20 years of ballet training, and part of the ODC Healthy Dancers Clinic in San Francisco, CA told DanceSpirit that about 1 in every 4 or 5 dancers has some degree of scoliosis. She also said that with scoliosis, dancers can experience a dropped shoulder and look bent to one side. Extreme cases can cause your spine to curve like an ‘S,’ but the curve looks different on everyone. 

Photo Credit: @straightforwardfoundation on Instagram

Additionally, Alway commented that scoliosis can become worse during growth spurts, typically between ages 12-16, so its important to catch it early. If caught early enough, wearing a back brace can be a highly effective alternative to surgery.

On the other hand, larger curves have a bigger impact on your body. One could be more flexible and/or stronger than the other, and your hips and shoulders could be uneven. With larger curves, it's especially important to work on strengthening your weak side to help your body not to give into your curved spine. Physical therapy, strength training, Pilates, and massage therapy are often implemented with scoliosis patients to combat any side effects caused by the condition.

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Founded in 2016, the StraightForward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that has the mission to improve the quality of life of individuals affected by scoliosis through empowerment, education, awareness and preventative care. With a vision to celebrate and share the empowering stories of people affected, the foundation sets out to create a society where people do not feel invisible and showcase scoliosis in a more empowering light to break the stigma of scoliosis. Having a unique approach, it raises proceeds for medical research through fashion and art.

For more information on the StraightForward Foundation, visit straightforwardfoundation.org. 

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